Hate should be contrasted with love. See Gen. 29:30, 31; Deut. 21:15-17; Prov. 13:24.
* In middle voice: "As many as had set themselves for eternal life became believers" or
- In Greek "hated" carries the meaning of secondary place. Compare Paul's statement with Christ's found in Luke 14:26, that of, singlemined loyalty, prefer less, love less.
The promise of grace is available to all who enter as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob did, that is, by faith.
- "Now we [Christians], brethren, like Isaac, are the children of promise" (Gal. 4:28) because of our faith.
"Is there injustice on God's part? By no means!" (Rom. 9:14).
- God was not unjust in choosing Jacob as a patriarch.
- "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy." Why by mercy? "So it depends not upon man's will or exertion, but on God's mercy " (vv. 15, 16). The choice of Jacob removes all influence of works.
- It was not done to just single out one family. It was done to single out a family to bring a blessing to ALL.
What about Pharaoh? "For the scripture says to Pharaoh, 'I have raised you up for the very purpose of showing my power in you'" (9:17).
- Notice here that Paul deals with Pharaoh's actions as a governmental leader and reveals how he was used to show God's power. These verses do not say anything about his election to eternal damnation.
- Secondly, Pharaoh hardened his own heart. The Exodus account does state at the beginning that the Lord "will harden his heart, that he shall not let the people go" (Ex. 4:21). At first glance this appears to be a prophecy that God would force Pharaoh as a puppet to sin against the people. But this is not the case.
- "The Hebrew work translated "hardened" could be translated "heavy." See Exodus 17:12 ("Moses' hands were heavy," KJV); I King 12:10 ("Your father made your yoke heavy"); Isaiah 1:4 ("Ah, a sinful nation, a people laden [i.e., heavy] with iniquity").
- "On the whole, therefore, we are compelled to see that Pharaoh's heart was left by God simply in its natural case,--heavy with iniquity" (Newell, Romans).
- The reason Pharaoh's heart was hardened is evident from his first encounter with Moses. Pharaoh said, "Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not the Lord, neither will I let Israel go" (Ex. 5:2). Pharaoh would not listen and did things that hardened his own heart: "He hardened his heart, and hearkened not unto them" (8:15; cf. v. 32). When a person is told to do something and refuses to do it after repeated requests, his heart becomes hardened even when he is forced to change his mind.
- The Scriptures also state that God hardened Pharaoh's heart (Ex. 7:3; 9:12; 10:1, 20, 27; 11:10). The way God hardened Pharaoh's heart was to allow him to choose evil and reap the fruits of his actions. God gave Pharaoh signs, and when he chose not to believe and replied with cruel and oppressive acts, he started down a path that hardened his heart.
- The conclusion Paul draws from Pharaoh is that God has "mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth" (Rom. 9:18). Pharaoh could not claim God's mercy because of the things he had done. Both Pharaoh and Moses were used by God to bring about His plan of redemption as He determined.
No one should find fault with God's working in history because He is the potter (Rom. 9:19-23).
- Man cannot dictate to or question God.
- "Will what is molded say to the potter, 'Why have you made me?'" (v. 20).
- Don't push this analogy; man is more that clay. Man is an intellectual being with his own will.
- The point is man should not question God and say, "Who can resist his will?" (v. 19).
- God was patient with Pharaoh, Judah, etc. Pharaoh would not heed Moses' call, nor would Judah who rejected Christ and the call to repent, etc.
- "The only way to interpret Romans 9 in harmony with the rest of Scripture is to regard the 'vessels of wrath' as those who cling to sin and reject the Gospel, while the 'vessels of mercy' are those whom God has loved . . . true believers on the Lord Jesus Christ" (Wenger, p. 270).
- God used the vessels of mercy He "has prepared beforehand for glory, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles" (vv. 23, 24). Both groups now are "corporate" elected in Christ.
The vessels of mercy and corporate election in Romans 9
- "Even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles" (9:13).
"Those who were not my people I will call 'my people,'
and her who was not beloved I will call 'my beloved'" (9:24, 25).
"Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, righteousness through faith; but that Israel who pursued the righteousness which is based on law did not succeed in fulfilling that law" (vv. 30, 31).
"God chose you from the beginning to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief" (II Thess. 2:13).
- This speaks of the means God used: through sanctification and belief.
Commands to preach to all men implies salvation is available to all
"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations" (Matt. 28:19).
"Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation. He who believes and is baptized shall be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned" (Mark 16:15, 16).
"Repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in his name to all nations" (Luke 24:47).
There are numerous Commands to preach to all.
God's initiative and man's response
"Salvation is the divinely willed destiny for all men, but a destiny which can be thwarted by unbelief chosen in freedom in spite of the divine overtures and provisions" (God, Man, and Salvation, p. 428).
Some make an effort to know God's revealed ways.
- "They received the word with all eagerness, examining the scripture daily to see if these things were so" (Acts 17:10).
- "You search the scriptures; because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness to me; yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life" (John 5:39, 40).
Men are commanded to believe the Gospel.
- "To all who received him [Christ], he gave power to become children of God" (John 1:12).
- "I told you that you would die in your sins, for you will die in your sins unless you believe" (John 8:24).
- "While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light" (John 12:36).
- After Jesus clearly explained His mission to the disciples, He asked, "Do you believe?" (John 16:31).
- "The righteousness of God has been manifested . . . The righteousness of God [is available] through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe" (Rom. 3:22).
- Some will not believe: "who receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God" (John 5:44).
Men come to faith by hearing:
- "But how are men to call upon him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without a preacher? But they have not all obeyed the gospel; for Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?" So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes by the preaching of Christ" (Rom 10:14, 17, 16).
The work of the Holy Spirit
- "For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has wrought through me to win obedience from the Gentiles, by word and deed, by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Holy Spirit, so that from Jerusalem and as far round as Illyricum I have fully preached the gospel of Christ" (Rom. 15:18-19).
- "my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power" (I Cor 2:4).
- "for our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake" (I Thess. 1:5)
- "It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things which have now been announced to you by those who preached the good news to you through the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look" (I Pet 1:12).
The Holy Spirit can be resisted and God's grace nullified.
- Stephen said, "You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you" (Acts 7:51).
- "Whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness" (Mark 5:39) implies resisting His work.
- "The man who has spurned the Son of God, and profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and outraged the Spirit of grace?" (Heb. 10:29).
- Paul knew he could resist God and was careful to "not nullify the grace of God" (Gal. 2:21).
- From the above we see man can resist the Holy Spirit and nullify God's grace. God is sovereign and has given man the freedom to do this.
"How much more will the Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!" (Matt. 7:11).
- This does not deal with how one comes to "ask."
- One must "ask" God for "good things." There is nothing here about God giving without the unbeliever asking.
"Why do you ask me about what is good?" (Matt. 19:17)
- This unbelieving Jew came to Jesus though his reasoning power only after seeing Jesus' signs and hearing Him teach. No man on his own reasoned Jesus was a Great Teacher.
Jesus said, "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him" (John 6:44; cf. 65).
- This is right, but Jesus later explained, "When I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself" (12:32).
- "And when he [the Holy Spirit] comes, he will convince the world of its sin" (John 16:8).
"You did not choose me, but I chose you" (John 15:16).
- See the rest of the sentence. This refers to the twelve being appointed apostles: "and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit."
- See who Jesus is speaking to in the wider context: 13:36; 14:8; 16:29; 18:1.
Acts 13:48: "As many as were ordained to eternal life believed."
- Let's first review this verse in the immediate context.
- The rulers of the synagogue in Antioch asked Paul to give a "word of exhortation for the people"(Acts 13:15). Paul responded with a brief review of Israel's history, stating that "God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus, as he promised" (v. 13). Paul spoke of Jesus' condemnation, death, and resurrection (vv. 27-30).
- The people begged Paul to speak more about this on the next Sabbath, and he did. "The next sabbath almost the whole city gathered together to hear the word of God" (v. 43).
- At this meeting "the Jews saw the multitudes [the Gentiles accepting the Gospel], they were filled with jealousy, and contradicted what was spoken by Paul, and reviled him" ["contradicting and blaspheming," KJV] (v. 45).
- Paul told the Jews, "Since you thrust it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles" (v. 46).
- Paul then cited Israel 49:6 to the Jews: "I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth" (v. 47).
- "And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of God" (v. 48).
- The rest of this verse is ambiguous.
- An interlinear shows the Greek word order: "As many as believed had been appointed to eternal life" (The New Greek-English Interlinear New Testament, Tyndale House).
- The two verbal translations are:
* In the passive voice: "As many as were ordained to eternal life believed" (RSV) or
"as many as were disposed to eternal life believed."
- Note: The above passive is influenced by Jerome changing the Greek term tasso translated in the old Latin as destinati or ordinati to praordinati, that is, predestination-ordained in English "to make the coming to faith and salvation the product of a predestinatory eternal degree" (Lenski). Augustine and the Western Church was influenced by this change. The Greek Orthodox Church, whose mother tongue was Greek, had no problem with the old Latin and did not change their understanding of this verse.
- In summary, the grammar is ambiguous.